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What is a Website?

A website is a collection of files placed on a server that is connected to the Internet. You may not realize that the thing of beauty that you see on your monitor does not exist as you see it on a server somewhere. The web does not operate like printed media or even TV for that matter.

There is a basic text file written in the language of the Internet known as html, or one of its variations. This basic file is an instruction sheet for your browser telling it what files are needed, where they are located, and where to place them on the page that you see.

A simple one page site may have all of the instructions in the html file, but a more complex site usually has an auxiliary file known as a style sheet. The style sheet (css file) can be included (internal) in the html file but is frequently a separate file (external) that is referenced in the html file. The style sheet is used to contain the instructions for the layout of the site leaving the html file uncluttered to handle the content of the site.

In addition to the html and css files there will be image files for any pictures that are used on the site. If sound or video is used with the site there will be separate files for them as well. There are a few other types of files that are sometimes used but you can learn about them if the need arises.

If you know the html and css programming languages you can build a website with nothing more than a text editor like notepad that comes with Windows. While some knowledge of these languages is helpful it is not necessary to learn them to build websites. There are many website builder programs available. These translate the content and layout in a visual editor to the html and css that browsers understand.

Many experienced webmasters use a combination of the editor program and some hand coding to tweak the code. This can allow for a better work flow as the program will do the heavy lifting as far as the code is concerned.

This is a basic overview of a website. There are more details in some of the other articles on the site.

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